Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I have an opportunity. As with many opportunities, it's a mixed bag of gain and loss, and I'm not entirely sure whether to move forward or not.

To wit: I have a 1969 Dodge Dart (see pic here). It was my grandmother's car, she was the original owner, and I grew up in that car. I've been wanting to finish her restoration with a paint- and body-lift, but having been out of work this year, the project went to the bottom of the priority list. Mr. ShellHawk politely hates the car, tells me it's a hazard to drive (it isn't, it's in perfect working condition), and won't ride in it when I take it out to run errands. (Part of that is because the bench seat is set so I can reach the gas and brake-and Mr. ShellHawk is 6' 3", so his knees wind up only slightly below his ears.) There's been a civil back-and-forth going on for years regarding the Mighty Dodge and the getting rid of her, until he said something at a time when I was thinking about the wisdom of continuing to hang on to her:

"If you sell it, you get to keep all the money yourself."

Now, at the height of the economy, someone offered me $12k for that car. I know that's probably not what I'd get for it now, but still, it makes me think: What would I do with the money I can legitimately and selfishly keep all to myself?

My studio area was set up for the previous owner of the house. It worked for his needs, but doesn't work all that well for mine. I could use some cabinets for storage, a work bench/desk, and any number of other stuff to tidy up the space and make it more comfortable for myself.

But this is the car I grew up in.

But I could sell my kick-wheel and get an electric pottery wheel that's smaller and doesn't take up so much space.

But Oma and I went everywhere together in this car.

But I could put in a heating/air conditioning unit in the shop. And windows.

But this is the car I grew up in, man!

But you could put some money aside for the larger kiln you'll need later on!

You see the dilemma. I'm truly torn.

Of course, I could suddenly get lucky in my job search and start saving for the studio of my dreams, but I know that 80% of that money will be contributed to household expenses and it will take a long time to save.



  1. Hmmm. It's a tough one.

    So here's the deal.

    1) You shouldn't keep the car JUST for sentimental value. If it can't be used and you don't have plans to fix it, you should get rid of it.

    But it doesn't sound like you don't use it or that it's dead in the garage. So you need to consider other variables.

    2) How much more productive will you be as an artist and new business woman if you improve your workspace? If selling the car means jump-starting your passion and hopeful career path, doesn't it make sense to sell the car?

    3) How long has the car been waiting to be restored? 5 years? 10 years? If it's been that long, chances are you have no real intention of ever tackling the project. And you need to realize you're holding onto it solely for sentimental reasons. And you don't need to the car - you have memories. And getting rid of the car does not in any way lessen your love for your Oma.

    It comes down to being honest with yourself. I think it's a sweet little car and if it was restored I would try not to drool all over it. But only you know why you're holding onto the car. Love of the car ors love of your Oma. And I'm sure your Oma would want you to move ahead in your love of art, and work towards making your dreams a reality.

    But if you just love the kick ass car, and use it, and WILL restore it, and those benefits outweigh improving your workspace, by all means KEEP the car!

  2. To quote a wise blogger, "One of the things I've learned over the years is that if you want new things to come into your life, you must take stock and clear out the old stuff you don't need anymore. Clear the space. Claim your space. You'll be surprised what neat stuff will flow into your life when there's room for it!" Plus it doesn't have airbags.

  3. Or you could really annoy him and get a hearse. :)

  4. Hum...I debated all day on whether or not to say anything. But I finally talked myself in to at least sharing my experience.

    Like my grandmother, I am way too good at giving things away and I am not a packrat. If you said you like a sweater my grandmother was wearing (she had amazing taste in clothes) she would say "this old thing, if you want it you can have it, and take it off and hand it to you."

    I always wanted to be my grandma, greatest lady I ever knew. I tried to be like her but I realized that I have a bit of my mother's sensitive side and have found myself attached to "things".

    I have given away or donated almost all of the things that my grandmother gave me. She would not care and tell me I am silly for lamenting over a "thing". But I cannot help it, every time I think of one particular item; my heart hurts.

    It was a Newman and Marcus coat (from the 60's) with a fur collar, that she gave to me, because she told me I had a bought me a matching coat when I was four. She got them at the main store in Texas on one of her shopping trips (told you she had good taste - and she loved clothes! :) If I close my eyes I can still hear her telling me the story. :)

    I donated it to charity because being vegetarian and into animal rights, I just could not see myself owning fur. At the time I thought I made the right choice.

    Now, I am mature enough to have gotten over myself and wish I would have kept the coat, fur and all. I have a picture of her an I in the coats, I pass it every day . . . I keep it to remind me. :) I will not make that mistake again.

    It is a long post...you don't have to post it if you don't want to, I understand :)


  5. Both of my beloved Grandparents died within the last 4 years. As the only living relatives, my Mama and I had to go through their effects and decide what to do with an entire house filled of memories that they made there since 1962. After some time, she and I realized that all of this was just stuff, and the memories will always remain. Rather than fill our own houses 3 times over, we took pictures of everything we loved, and donated it, repurposed it or otherwise let go of it. Whenever we miss them, we see the pictures, remember the times, and still have room for memories of our own in our homes.

    Sorry that was so long, Shell... it kinda poured out of me. You will let go of that car when you are ready... after all, selling it won't take those memories away, you have those forever.

  6. All great insights and comments-especially the one about claiming space. Hmm, where have I heard that before? :o)
    Truth is, I do use the car-it's my nearly everyday car and I've been good about keeping up on regular maintenance. (BTW, Steve, you're right about the airbags, which is one of hubby's problems with the car.)
    Too, it is just a thing and memories are in the head...
    The rest of the restoration isn't cost-prohibitive, but there is always something more important that needs attention. (If I'd set away the cash I spent on the haunt this year, I'd be that much closer.)
    Reality is, I'd like my shop more. Fortunately, I'm not in a financially desperate situation and can sell the car at the price I want, rather than just grabbing at the first offer that comes along.
    Thanks, Everyone, for the input. Keep it coming-I love learning from genius!

  7. As I get older, I become less of a pack rat and more ruthless in getting rid of things I no longer need. However, I have sold/given away things which had sentimental meaning to me and later regretted it. Turns out their presence in my life meant more than I realized at the time.

    I think you need to ask yourself what brings you the greatest joy. Is it the memory of your experiences with your grandmother in the car, or is it the ability to relive those memories by actually driving the car?

    If the physical presence of the car is important to you, keep it. If you simply enjoy the memories, sell it. But first take a photograph and display it (perhaps in a collage with other photos/mementos of your grandmother) in a place where it will always remind you of those happy times.

    Good luck with your decision. Sounds like you're leaning toward "sell".


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